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Online Shopping Is Too Hard

June 10, 2015

Online shopping is supposed to drive physical stores out of business, but that might not be the case if online shopping is too difficult.  The Ragtrader article, “Why They Abandon” explains that 45 percent of Australian consumers will not make an online purchase if they experience Web site difficulties.  The consumers, instead, are returning to physical stores to make the purchase.  The article mentions that 44 percent believe that traditional shopping is quicker if they know what to look for and 43 percent as prefer in-store service.

The research comes from a Rackspace survey to determine shopping habits in New Zealand and Australia.  The survey also asked participants what other problems they experienced shopping online:

“42 percent said that there were too many pop-up advertisements, 34 percent said that online service is not the same as in-store and 28 percent said it was too time consuming to narrow down options available.”

These are understandable issues.  People don’t want to be hounded to purchase other products when they have a specific item in mind and thousands of options are overwhelming to search through.  Then a digital wall is often daunting if people prefer interpersonal relationships when they shop.  The survey may pinpoint online shopping weaknesses, but it also helps online stores determine the best ways for improvement.

“ ‘This survey shows that not enough retailers are leveraging powerful and available site search and navigation solutions that give consumers a rewarding shopping experience.’ ”

People shop online for convenience, variety, lower prices, and deals.  Search is vital for consumers to narrow down their needs, but if they can’t navigate a Web site then search proves as useless as an expired coupon.


Whitney Grace, June 10, 2015
Sponsored by, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

IBM Elevates Tape Storage to the Cloud

June 9, 2015

Did you think we left latency and bad blocks behind with tape storage? Get ready to revisit them, because “IBM Cloud Will Reach Back to Tape for Low-Cost Storage,” according to ComputerWorld. We noticed tape storage was back on the horizon earlier this year, and now IBM has made it official at its recent Edge conference in Las Vegas. There, the company was slated to present a cloud-archiving architecture that relies on a different storage mediums, including tape, depending on an organization’s needs. Reporter Stephen Lawson writes:

“Enterprises are accumulating growing volumes of data, including new types such as surveillance video that may never be used on a regular basis but need to be stored for a long time. At the same time, new big-data analytics tools are making old and little-used data useful for gleaning new insights into business and government. IBM is going after customers in health care, social media, oil and gas, government and other sectors that want to get to all of their data no matter where it’s stored. IBM’s system, which it calls Project Big Storage, puts all tiers of storage under one namespace, creating a single pool of data that users can manage through folders and directories without worrying about where it’s stored. It incorporates both file and object storage.”

A single pool of data is good. The inclusion of tape storage in this mix is reportedly part of an attempt to undercut IBM’s cloudy competitors, including AWS and Google Cloud. Naturally, the service can be implemented onsite, as a cloud service, or as a hybrid. IBM hopes Big Storage will make cloud pricing more predictable, though complexity there seems inevitable. Tape storage is slower to deliver data, but according to the plan only “rarely needed” data will be stored there, courtesy of IBM’s own Spectrum Scale distributed storage software. Wisely, IBM is relying on the tape-handling experts at Iron Mountain to run the tape-based portion of the Big Storage Project.

Cynthia Murrell, June 9, 2015

Sponsored by, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph


Informed Millennials

April 15, 2015

With the fall of traditional newspapers and aging TV News audiences, just where are today’s 20- and young 30- somethings turning for news coverage?  Science 2.0  tells us “How Millennials Get News,” reporting on a recent survey from the American Press Institute and the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research. The joint effort comes from a collaboration arrangement the organizations call the Media Insight Project. Conducted at the beginning of 2015, the survey asked Millennials about their news-consumption habits. The article tells us:

“People ages 18-34 consume news and information in strikingly different ways than did previous generations, they keep up with ‘traditional’ news as well as stories that connect them to hobbies, culture, jobs, and entertainment, they just do it in ways that corporations can’t figure out how to monetize well….

“‘For many Millennials, news is part of their social flow, with most seeing it as an enjoyable or entertaining experience,’ said Trevor Tompson, director of the AP-NORC Center. ‘It is possible that consuming news at specific times of the day for defined periods will soon be a thing of the past given that news is now woven into many Millennials’ connected lives.’”

Soon? Even many of us Gen Xers and (a few intrepid Baby Boomers) now take our news in small doses at varying hours. The survey also found that most respondents look at the news at least once a day, and many several times per day. Also, contrary to warnings from worrywarts (yes, including me), personalized news feeds may not be creating a confirmation-bias crisis, after all. Most of these Millennials insist their social-media feeds are well balanced; the write-up explains:

“70 percent of Millennials say that their social media feeds are comprised of a diverse mix of viewpoints evenly mixed between those similar to and different from their own. An additional 16 percent say their feeds contain mostly viewpoints different from their own. And nearly three-quarters of those exposed to different views (73 percent) report they investigate others’ opinions at least some of the time–with a quarter saying they do it always or often.”

Well, that’s encouraging. Another finding might surprise some of us: Though a vast 90 percent of Millennials have smart phones, only half report being online most of all of the day. See the article for more, or navigate to the report itself; the study’s methodology is detailed at the end of the report.

Cynthia Murrell, April 15, 2015

Stephen E Arnold, Publisher of CyberOSINT at

Qwant Develops Qwant Junior, the Search Engine for Children

March 17, 2015

The article on Telecompaper titled Qwant Tests Child-Friendly Search Engine discusses the French companies work. Qwant is focused on targeting 3 to 13 year olds with Qwant Junior, in partnership with the Education Ministry. Twenty percent of the company is owned by digital publishing powerhouse Axel Springer. The child-friendly search engine will attempt to limit the access to inappropriate content while encouraging children to use the search engine to learn. The article explains,

“The new version blocks or lists very far down in search results websites that show violence and pornography, as well as e-commerce sites. The version features an education tab separately from the general web search that offers simplified access to educational programme, said co-founder Eric Leandri. Qwant Junior’s video tab offers child-appropriate videos from YouTube, Dailymotion and Vimeo. After tests with the ministry, the search engine will be tested by several hundred schools.”

Teaching youngsters the ways of the search engine is important in our present age. The concept of listing pornography “very far down” on the list of results might unsettle some parents of young teens smart enough to just keep scrolling, but it is France! Perhaps the expectation of blocking all unsavory material is simply untenable. Qwant is planning on a major launch by September, and is in talks with Brazil for a similar program.

Chelsea Kerwin, March 17, 2014

Stephen E Arnold, Publisher of CyberOSINT at

AWS Wants to Make Using ElasticSearch Easier

March 12, 2015

Amazon Web Services is one of the biggest purveyors of cloud and remote computing, but it still faces stiff competition from its rivals. AWS continues to add features and new technology to attract more users. TechTarget alerted us to how AWS is making developments with its search offerings: “Amazon Preps AWS ElasticSearch To Ease EC2 Integration.” AWS wants to make running ElasticSearch, an open source search engine, easier on its Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) with a new service option.

Another open source search engine based of Apache Solr is already available on AWS called CloudSearch, but ElasticSearch has become more popular in recent years. Solr is still considered by many an open source project rather than a competitive application. ElasticSearch has remained on top of valuable open source products since created in 2010.

Response to an ElasticSearch service for EC2 has been positive and end-users are eager to see it deployed. Integrating ElasticSearch into EC2 is tricky, leading to memory shortages and leaks. If AWS manages the backend for ElasticSearch integrations, it would be a relief for users who have head to deal with the issue. They would be able to focus on other projects rather than keeping the backend running.

“’ I wouldn’t be surprised to see this kind of offering,’ said Dan Sullivan, a consultant with DS Applied Technologies, located in Portland, Ore, who did not have any direct knowledge of the upcoming service, but said it would make sense. ‘ElasticSearch is growing in popularity … and [an AWS service] would be something a lot of people would be interested in.’”

What does this spell for Apache Solr-based companies like LucidWorks? It puts more pressure on them to be a more viable rival.

Whitney Grace, March 12, 2015
Sponsored by, developer of Augmentext

Tips for Improved SharePoint Experience

January 27, 2015

It is about time for those New Year’s resolutions to be wearing off. There’s likely a little more dust on the treadmill come mid-January. Yet, it is never too late to commit to a few resolutions for your organization’s SharePoint installation. Read some handy and attainable tips in the Network World article, “5 New Year’s Resolutions (Tips) for SharePoint Power Users.”

The article begins:

“For my first blog post of 2015, I’ve compiled a list of New Year’s resolutions for SharePoint Power Users. These are my favorite tips and best practices to improve user experiences for SharePoint sites. They are in no particular order but they are all designed to improve the user experience for power user designers and/or end users of SharePoint sites.”

Tips go on to include things like organizing content, making meaningful links, and embedding PowerPoint pages via hyperlink. These are not life-changing tips, but they are helpful, and research has found that these small changes make a big impact on overall user experience. Stephen E. Arnold has a vested interest in these tips and tricks when it comes to SharePoint. He has made a career out of all things search and he reports his findings on his Web site, His SharePoint feed is a treasure trove for those who are interested in these practical suggestions for improved usability.

Emily Rae Aldridge, January 27, 2015

Google Steers SEO Pros Toward User Experience

January 21, 2015

Curious to learn where Google is driving the search-engine optimization field these days? Search Engine Watch tells us, “6 Major Changes Reveal the Future of SEO.” Writer Eric Enge declares, “Google is doing a brilliant job of pushing people away from tactical SEO behavior and toward a more strategic approach.” Um, okay. As long as that means more relevant information for users.

The article lists Eng’s six observations and what each means for SEO approaches. For example, Google has stopped handing users’ keyword data to websites, requiring them to use other methods to monitor keyword performance. Then there’s the Hummingbird algorithm, which Enge says is really a major platform change. The write-up also considers the current influence of Google+ and Google’s Authorship program. Finally, Enge cites the In-Depth Article feature Google introduced last August, which points users to more comprehensive sources of information. See the article for more on each of these points. Enge concludes:

“All of these new pieces play a role in getting people to focus on their authority, semantic relevance, and the user experience. Again, this is what Google wants.

“For clarity, I’m not saying that Google designed these initiatives specifically to stop people from being tactical and make them strategic. I don’t really know that. It may simply be the case that Google operates from a frame of reference that they want to find and reward outstanding sites, pages, and authors that offer outstanding answers to user’s search queries. But the practical impact is the same.

“The focus now is on understanding your target users, producing great content, establishing your authority and visibility, and providing a great experience for the users of your site.”

Well, this does sound like a good shift for users. Will SEO workers used to focusing on PageRank data and keywords learn to adapt?

Cynthia Murrell, January 21, 2015

Sponsored by, developer of Augmentext

SharePoint Hopes It Becomes Irresistible

January 20, 2015

SharePoint is hoping to make itself irresistible and irreplaceable with its latest announcement of providing a digital window to make the platform feel more personal. Get all the details in the CMS Wire article, “Office 365 & Sharepoint Online Just Became Irresistible.”

The article begins by explaining the strategy:

“Forget Google Docs, Box and any productivity tool that anyone else has to offer. Microsoft is committing its brains and its brawn to one thing —being your ‘go to’ for your digital life, at work and at home. It plans to do this by providing a window to the digital world that feels ‘more personal and natural,’ to use CEO Satya Nadella’s words, via innovations in touch, speech, vision, inking and much more. They will all come together with intelligent agent (can you say machine learning, analytics, PowerBI, Office Graph) and shell technologies.”

As part of the new strategy, Delve incorporates a new feature called Boards, helping to organize content and keep it on the surface. Other more tangible features are likely to be rolled out in coming weeks. To stay on top of them stay tuned to, particularly the SharePoint feed. Stephen E. Arnold is a longtime leader in search and keeps his eyes peeled for the most important tips, news, and tricks for users and managers alike.

Emily Rae Aldridge, January 20, 2015

Content Management Should Consider Its Users

January 20, 2015

Is it time to change our approach to content management? Big Men On Content discusses “Rebooting Enterprise Content Management.” Writer Marko Sillanpää ponders the state of the ECM field:

“Is the ECM problem … changing? That last word was hard to write, as there as many options with much stronger word option. But ECM is changing. It’s not evolving. It’s not becoming ‘Records Management’ or ‘Information Management’ or yet another iteration of ‘Knowledge Management’. It’s not dying. This vendor or that vendor is not on their last legs. It’s definitely not expanding. There are no new content types being managed. But ECM is changing. And if you look in the right places it’s growing. Customers are taking on the ECM challenge on their own. But how have we missed this change? I think we’ve been too focused.”

Sillanpää takes us back to 1998, when crucial decisions about content management were being made. He feels vendors at the time, distracted by the process of defining the shiny new field, failed to listen to their customers. He maintains that vendors are again failing to pay attention to users’ voices, this time because they are too busy watching each other.

Meanwhile, issues that vendors seems to find boring but that customers actually care about go unaddressed. As an example, the write-up cites the continued reliance on paper files at many organizations. It is an issue that truly vexes many users, yet it remains unsolved. Sillanpää may have a point; when was the phrase “paperless office” coined? And when did we give up on getting there?

Cynthia Murrell, January 21, 2015

Sponsored by, developer of Augmentext

Another Amazing Interface from

November 3, 2014

The Internet Archive has a design motif: A postage stamp album. You can see the Internet Arcade implementation at I can do a screen shot of a very long screen, but I want to show you a snippet of the postage-stamp or card design motif. The interface presents about 890 hot links in the form of postage stamps pasted in a 1050s style album.


Click a link and you will be able to play an arcade game in your browse. Performance can be interesting. The white rectangles in the screenshot indicate that a graphic did not render. I grabbed this image after a period of 10 minutes. Rendering was leisurely. I think the horsepower for the system was munching hay.

There is a search box. A search for “anteater” returned a hit to the arcade game and to other content about anteaters, cockroaches, pest control, and other related concepts. Well, related to anteaters, not to the arcade game.

Stephen E Arnold, November 3, 2014

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